I love board games! And card games…

Just games in general, really. And from the number of hits on our last article on the topic, it seems like you all do too. Well you’re in luck, fellow game geeks! Because I decided to write another one. (I also needed a reason to rationalize all of my game purchases, and “It’s research for an article!” sounds a lot better than “I can’t stop myself maybe I have a problem aaaaaah so many games!”)

So here are five (more) modern board games that are way more fun than Monopoly. For funsies, I’ve linked the title of each entry to Wil Wheaton’s YouTube show Tabletop so you can see how to play each one.


1) Ticket to Ride


Ticket to Ride is one of those games that’s deceptively complex. On your turn, you can do one of three things: Draw a card, play some cards which lets you lay down trains, or draw new tickets. As you lay down trains, you get points (the more you lay down at once, the more points you get), and you continue playing until one person runs out of trains. (Essentially.)

Now, my game of choice is almost always Settlers of Catan, so I’m used to being able to do a whole bunch of stuff on my turn. I found it frustrating that I couldn’t do that in Ticket to Ride–at first. Then I found it fun (although it can still be frustrating at times). Human beings often suffer from what some people call “the paradox of choice,” i.e. when you have too many things to choose from, you can’t pick any of them. I see this happen to people in Catan: “Now I could do that, that and that, but maybe if I did this first,” etc. Meanwhile, everyone else at the table has gotten up to go to the bathroom/make a sandwich/solve the problem of nuclear fusion before that first person can make up their mind.

But if you’re playing Ticket to Ride with people, even if the player whose turn it is wants to do seventeen things, they understand that they can only do one, which speeds things up along nicely.


2) Smash Up


Smash Up is a game where players mix two decks of cards together and fight as pirates, ninjas, zombies, robots, tricksters, dinosaurs, aliens, and/or wizards.

Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t expect you to keep reading the article. When I had people read over the first draft of this, people read that last paragraph up there and then ran to their nearest game store to pick up a copy.

Now, I realize that Smash Up is a card game, and thus not a board game (you can tell because there’s no board involved), but when you say “card game” most people think you mean poker or euchre or what have you. In any case, Smash Up, like Ticket to Ride, is one of those games where you can only do a few things on your turn, which is nice. Unlike Ticket to Ride, Smash Up sets up rule only to break it into tiny pieces, light those pieces on fire, and then magic those pieces into another dimension.

Why? I’ll tell you! Normally, players can play two cards on their turn: one Minion and one Action. Minion’s have number values (their Strength) and players use them to conquer bases, which also have a number on them. When the numbers of all the minions on a base equal the number of that base, players score (depending on who has the most Strength all together). Actions don’t have any strength in and of themselves, but they let you affect things (your own Minions, enemy Minions, etc.) But then things get crazy.

Every deck has its own strategies, but when you can take all of the War Raptors from your deck with a Zombie card and put them in the discard pile, then put them all into your hand on the next turn with another Zombie card, and then use their ability that lets them buff each other to high heaven, things get out of control quickly. (And don’t get me started on the Wizard deck and Action cards.)

Smash Up is a really fun game, and with all of the add-ons, you’re guaranteed to never play the same game twice.


Be sure to head to Page 2 for the rest of this article!